How many people do you want around?
On what basis will you select them?
How will you support yourselves?
How will each person have privacy?
How will you deal with the government, with transient people, with runaways?
How will you educate your children?
How many dogs will you allow?
from Living on the Earth, by Alicia Bay Laurel. c. 1971.
I want fifteen people around. Five men, ten women including me.
I will select them based on their feet. If they have ugly feet, especially if they have warts or bunions, they are disqualified. Women with toes that are pretty enough to adorn with rings will certainly be admitted.
We will support ourselves by growing mayors and governors in the garden.
We will create privacy by sleeping in coffins.
We will teach government officials how to use Twitter and Vine.
We will listen to transient people until they bore us with their repetitive miseries.
We will give the runaways a place to live but only under the condition that they think, talk, and act like people with beautiful feet.
We will educate our children by giving them the benefit of the doubt.
We will allow dogs.
“Just because a cat has her kittens in an oven, you don’t call them biscuits.”
–Vicki Lane, Art’s Blood ♥by way of 'In the Laurels, Caught' by Lee Ann Brown (Fence Modern Poets Series, 2013).
There was this man I used to know, I want to call him a guy, but he was more of a man to me than a guy, and he appeared to be very smart. He wore glasses, he was a lawyer, and he had graduated from Harvard. Smart. He said to me, and he was trying to be helpful and kind, he said, “I know that you are only playing dumb. That underneath your ditzy act you are a very smart girl.“
People wear jeggings, thong underwear, wallet chains.
My first true romance was in junior high school with Scott, a boy in the grade above me. When he called me at home he always said he was watching “The Three Stooges,” and I sensed that he was trying to impress me, though he didn’t need to. I was completely smitten, drugged with love. It was really about his eyes and his basketball uniform.
People enjoy watching horror films, sitcoms, and talk shows.
The first time Scott kissed me I was chewing on a king-sized bite of a Snickers bar. This failed first kiss was a source of shame and remorse for me. Then it became a joke between us. Scott put me down pretty quickly, though. He exchanged me for a cheerleader with shorter legs and when he did it, he did it on the phone. He quoted the parting scene in Casablanca. I took little comfort in the reference, as I had never seen the film. In fact, I had never even heard of it, and there was no Google or Youtube to help me out.
People miss the Twinkie, though we turned our backs when it was still alive.
film clip is from the Three Stooges, Three Little Sew and Sews, 1939
song is “Surround Me With Your Love,” Stephane Pompougnac, 2003
JUNE 1778, VALLEY FORGE
this morn att two oClock we slung our packs / advanc’d towards the enemy about 3 milds from ware we lay / part of the militia & light hores that was on the wright engag’d the enemy / then our Division advanced towards the enemy / thay form’d in a Sollid Collom then fir’d a voley att us / thay being so much Superier to our Number we retreated / they begun a very heavy Cannading / kil’d a few of our Rijmt. then we form’d again under a fence ware the light horse advanced on us / we began a fire on them very heavy / then the footmen rushed on us / after firing a Number of rounds we was obliged to retreat. a Number of our men died with heat a retreating. a Number of troops form’d in the rear of us and sum artilira which cover’d our retreat. thay began a fire on the enemy, then thay (the British) retreat’d / Left the Ground with about a thousand kil’d & wounded. on our Side about two hunderd kil’d & wounded & died with heat / after We retreated we went back to the ground ware we left in the morning att English town ware we buried sum of our officers. here rec’d a ball in my left thy.
excerpt from the diary of Jeremiah Greenman, soldier (1758-1828)
He learnt that it’s real, real important to have money. More is better.
And to obey the people with authority.
What is authority? They are bigger than you, or they have guns. They might be wearing uniforms.
And when he got lost—it could happen, it happens all the time—if he got lost he should go up to someone in a uniform and ask for help. Of course, bus drivers wear uniforms. Prisoners wear uniforms. But when a boy is lost, he has to take his chances. Most of the time, he was told, you could trust a person in a uniform.
She learnt that pain is part of everyday life for a girl. In fact, why bother calling it pain, pain is a judgment word, a qualifier. Think of some new word for that spike of self-rejection that dissolves into a shrug. She was riding this feeling before she was old enough to pierce her ears.
She found that she could just reach out and hold someone’s hand. Just grab the hand of someone nearby and hold on to it. Always have a person near, a person with a hand. The hand is replaceable, interchangeable. Nothing magical about the person it’s attached to. The hand is the thing.
And if there’s no one around with a uniform, talk to an adult with small children. Adults with small children are usually parents. Parents are usually safe.
in the end
close of a long day
saying to herself
time she stopped
time she stopped
going to and fro
time she went and sat
at her window
quiet at her window
facing other windows
other only windows
from rockaby, by samuel beckett
fragments compiled from ancient texts, dating back to the roots of Egyptian civilization:
There are those who hide their kleenex boxes under decorative covers, and there are those who display their kleenex unadorned. Still others blow their noses with toilet paper.
That hammer on the windowsill. You left if there.
There’s a drop of water hanging from the tip of your nose. Otherwise, you look normal.
This dress buttons up the back. Give me a hand.
Girls at carnivals with hairy arms. It’s not their fault.
–Kim, you look beautiful. What are you wearing tonight? Our viewers want to know.
–It’s all Givenchy. (shjee-vohn-she) Except for the jewelry. That’s Chanel. Mostly. And a few doodads I picked up. At thrift stores. Through the years.
–Thrift stores? That’s very punk of you.
–Oh yes, I went through a punk phase.
–But you’re a baby.
–I’m not saying I hung out with Sid and Nancy. But I was very anti-establishment. In my own way.
–I love the belt. Show us the belt.
(Kim lifts her cape and reveals a dog-collar style belt studded with three-inch platinum spikes. Dazzled, the interviewer gasps, but he manages to ask one more question. Because Frank Ocean isn’t available yet.)
–Kim, what are you most looking forward to seeing in the exhibit?
–Inside the museum?
(Kim looks around.)
–Oh, that. I heard they have the original urinals from CBGBs. That should be fun.
–Oh yes, the urinals are perfect.